The commitment towards healthy, clean and well-managed oceans is not new to the EU. The Union's strategies for economic growth, global security and, most recently, good ocean governance, as well as its steady advances in sustainable fishing, marine spatial planning and renewable energy, will fit perfectly into the conference themes and possibly induce commitments in others. This year's emphasis on the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean will also enable EU leaders to showcase the actions being carried out for these sea basins.
One of the side projects already planned locally has been designed for schools and will invite Maltese children aged 10 to 15 to engage with what they can do to protect the oceans. But the echoes of the conference will undoubtedly reach well beyond Malta's borders, giving Europe's maritime businesses a perfect opportunity to build on and benefit from the momentum and discussion created by the conference with their own awareness-raising events and thus gain visibility.
Public advocacy is indeed the backbone of the "Our Ocean" initiative. The global community understands the importance of oceans for human life and expects results. One of the objectives of the conference is to report on the progress made on past commitments and inspire new ones so that one single thread can link Chile and the US to Malta, continue to Indonesia and Norway after that and lead us, slowly but surely, to healthier oceans.
One effort that will prove central to taking care of our ocean’s welfare will be the European Union’s campaign on marine litter, a major theme of the conference, to be launched this year. With an estimated 10 million tons of plastic entering the seas every year, and everything from food chains to natural habitats being adversely affected, this issue needs every ounce of our resolution and creativity to help clean up our seas. By highlighting the great and innovative work of existing initiatives in Europe, the campaign will raise awareness of the gravity of the issue and serve as a call to action for the engagement and involvement of citizens across the EU so everyone can join in the fight against marine litter.
For more information please visit www.ourocean2017.org.